Although President Reagan said Thursday that he opposes extending special unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless because retraining is a better solution, he has asked Congress to rescind $119 million of the $222 million it had approved for retraining dislocated workers in 1985.
Office of Management and Budget spokesman Edwin L. Dale Jr. said yesterday that the full amount is not needed because money is left over since "the states weren't able to use it effectively." But Jim Ellenberger of the AFL-CIO's unemployment insurance department called the president's position "hypocritical."
At his news conference Thursday night, the president was asked whether he supported legislation to extend a program that would provide up to 14 weeks of additional unemployment benefits to 325,000 workers who have exhausted their regular state benefits.
Reagan said he opposes continuing the program, in part because the economy is now providing 300,000 new jobs a month and in part because he believes the place "for people who are having problems is our job-training program directed at those who have to be relocated because something has happened to the industries they formerly worked in."
Reagan was referring to the Job Training and Partnership Act of 1982, which provides special retraining to workers who lose jobs because their employer has gone out of business, moved away or permanently cut its labor force. Congress approved $222 million for the program for 1985, about the same level as in 1984. The program is in addition to a much larger program designed to train low-income persons, particularly young people.
However, the 1985 amount would fall to $103 million with the cut. In addition, only $100 million is sought for the program in 1986.
Labor Department officials said that some states were not using up all the money because the program is relatively new. "We have a carryover of $188 million," one official said, "and even after the rescission that would give us $188 million plus $103 million for 1985."